Latin America

The United States government announced on January 17 the release of Oscar Lopez Rivera, who has been jailed in the US for 36 years for his struggle to free Puerto Rico from US colonial rule.

Outgoing US President Barack Obama commuted Lopez' sentence, which will expire on May 17, according to a White House source, consulted by the EFE news agency.

New Year’s Day is usually a moment of peace in the chaos of Mexico City — but not this year. For Mexicans, 2017 began with nationwide protests against the government’s plans to deregulate petrol prices, a move opponents say will hurt everyone from the poor to middle class.

Since January 1, protests have only continued to spread, with almost daily demonstrations in nearly every large city. Major highways have also been blockaded by furious transport workers, who say they can’t keep up with rising prices at the bowser.

More than 500 participants gathered at the Trade Union Congress headquarters in London on November 26 for the annual Latin America Adelante conference, now in its 12th year.

With more than 70 different speakers and 30 different workshops and plenary sessions, plus the concurrent Alborada film festival, Latin America Adelante has become one of the most important and well-known gatherings of solidarity with a continent that is increasingly facing a right-wing neoliberal backlash.

As thousands joined Cuban President Raul Castro to say goodbye to his brother, Fidel, the younger brother imparted one of Fidel's dying wishes: that his image and name never adorn public places, from streets and parks to government institutions.

"Fidel was always against the cult of personality until his dying days," said Raul Castro. "He was consistent with that attitude, insisting that after his death his name and figure never be used to name plazas, avenues, streets and other public places, as well as the building of statues."

While Fidel Castro is known as a committed internationalist, supporting independence movements in Angola to South Africa, Nicaragua and even French Polynesia, less is known about his support for the Irish struggle, TeleSUR English said on December 2.

But in 1981, when Irish Republican prisoners were in the midst of a historic hunger strike against the British state, it was Fidel who once again sided with the oppressed.

The government of Hugo Chavez, who was first elected in 1998, helped lead the Bolivarian revolutionary process that made impressive social gains by redistributing oil wealth and promoting participatory democracy.

Since Chavez’s death in 2013, the Bolivarian government led by President Nicolas Maduro has faced mounting problems. In recent times, a worsening economic crisis has undermined the revolution’s gains and, along with political gains by the counter-revolutionary opposition, has raised questions about the survival of the revolution.

For years, those who had hoped and prayed for his death were repeatedly disappointed by a photo, a news clip or a commentary in that unmistakable style.

The rumours always proved unfounded. Fidel Castro, who had dodged some 600 attempts on his life orchestrated by the CIA, was very much alive and making the most of his twilight years.

There were no rumours this time. His brother Raul, voice quavering with emotion, read out a brief statement on TV and a sombre stillness descended on the Cuban archipelago.

The spectrum of Palestinian groups have expressed gratitude to late Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro as a friend of Palestine’s struggle for liberation, TeleSUR English said on November 27.

Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) Executive Committee Member Duran Kalkan paid tribute to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution at the PKK’s 38th anniversary celebrations in Medya Defence Zones, Firat News Agency reported on November 28.

Late Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro long warned that capitalism was threatening to destroy human civilisation through ecological destruction, with the poor of the global South its first victims.

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